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Indian cartoonist detained for toilet humor and sedition
Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

If there's ever been a clear sign that Garfield is growing stale, it's the fact that American cartoonists aren't getting slammed with enough jail time. Luckily for India, there're plenty of absurd and archaic sedition laws still in effect that are ready to help disgruntled lawyers and politicians throw the book at artistically minded satirists.

Aseem Trivedi is a freelance artist who has produced and posted to his website a number of cartoons lampooning the state of Indian politics. Sent to jail over the weekend and awaiting trial for sedition, Trivedi is refusing to seek bail until all charges are dropped. According to CNN, Trivedi's lawyer, Vijay Hiremath, reports that his client "had been remanded in custody until September 24th by a Mumbai court."

One of the cartoons in question depicts the three lions of India's national emblem replaced by wolves. Another image showed the nation's parliament as a toilet. This is, perhaps, a touchy subject, considering the Indian government's inability to provide most of its citizens with working and sanitary toilets.

As for Trivedi's potential sentence, should he be convicted for both sedition and what the source calls "insulting national honor," he'll face life imprisonment.

Despite this, Trivedi is putting on a brave face. "I am against this law," he yelled to reporters on Monday as he was taken away in a police van. "I have pride in what I have done and will keep doing it. This is a fight for a second independence!"

So what does the government have to say on the issue? Surely not the fact that the sedition law Trivedi has supposedly broken dates back to British colonization.

Ambika Soni, the country's information and broadcasting minister, told the source that the government doesn't partake in censorship, but rather preferred the media to do it - a practice retitled "self regulation."

"I don't think making cartoons is wrong," said Soni. "But [cartoonists] should not make national symbols as their subject."

Perhaps he means the toilet.

With any luck, Trivedi will beat the system and continue to lead a long and successful life as a cartoonist and critic of his nation's troubled politics. Furthermore, hopefully the many Indian citizens who suffer from poor sanitation will find relief, assuming government reform can be achieved - perhaps one cartoon at a time.



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